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Ontario Premier Doug Ford blasts long-term care homes without air conditioning

WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford provides an update on Ontario's response to COVID-19

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has strongly criticized long-term care homes that aren’t providing air conditioning, amid reports that some homes are concerned that it could increase the risk of COVID-19.

Ford made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question during his press conference on Tuesday.

“I’d like to get these owners who don’t put air conditioning — I’d like to stick them in the room for 24 hours at 30-degree heat (and) see how they like it. Or put their parents in there,” Ford said.

“This is all about the dollars.”

Read more: WHO says ‘evidence emerging’ that coronavirus may be airborne

Much of Ontario is in the midst of a lingering heat wave. In Toronto, every day in July thus far has reached at least 30 C.

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Under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, the facilities are required to have “a written hot weather related illness prevention and management plan for the home that meets the needs of the residents.”

The Act states that if central air conditioning is not available, the home must have a designated cooling area for every 40 residents. However, gathering residents in one area has been discouraged amid the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said there is “evidence emerging” of airborne spread of the novel coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Ontario introducing legislation to extend some pandemic emergency orders
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“We know that with respect to fans there has been some concern about transmission with movement of air and droplets,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

“But we need to find another solution and we need to make sure that these very vulnerable citizens are safe and comfortable.”

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Ford said he would be open to amending the Long-Term Care Homes Act to ensure all residents have air conditioning.

“Could you imagine being on the second or third floor when all the heat rises? It’s no different than going from your basement up to your top floor and you don’t have A/C. That’s terrible,” he said.

Ford said he was unaware that homes may not be providing air conditioning and added that he would “personally” call the homes.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Long-Term Care told Global News that the care homes must follow the cooling requirements in the Act while meeting infection prevention practices, but didn’t elaborate further.

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“We have shared guidelines from Public Health Ontario for the safe use of A/C and fans,” the spokesperson added.

— With files from Reuters and Global News’ Rachael D’Amore